(And our answers!)
1. Are the trips safe?
The safety of our travelers, sponsored friends and staff is of utmost importance. Local Unbound staff members are your hosts during the awareness trip and accompany the group at all times. Our local staff is from the destination country and lives there. Our social workers visit the neighborhoods, towns and countryside regularly and need to be well aware of safety concerns.
Because of their unique qualifications and background, our local staff is responsible for putting together the schedule of activities for your trip and choosing the communities you will visit. We avoid taking groups into areas or neighborhoods where there is tension. The members of the communities are excited to welcome sponsors.
Nobody can guarantee safety, and we aren’t naïve to the realities in the countries where we work, but we take every reasonable measure to minimize risks for our travelers. We monitor current events, weather situations, political climates, guidance by the U.S. State Department and more. We take seriously any alerts from the State Department against non-essential travel to a country or to a specific area within a country. We’re in regular communication with our local staff members and stay up to date on security matters. We’ve even cancelled trips when we’ve felt it prudent based on local conditions. Doing what we can to minimize safety concerns is a big responsibility, and we take it very seriously.
We also have expectations for our travelers regarding their behavior during the trip. Everyone is expected to stay with the group, follow instructions by staff, and make sure they are aware of (and adhering to!) the other rules for conduct that are outlined in the Travel Agreement found in the registration materials.
Unbound awareness trips offer the opportunity to see a side of a country travelers wouldn’t normally have access to. Being aware of all these factors allows us to anticipate and reduce risks travelers might otherwise experience in the places we visit.
2. Do I need immunizations?
Consult your doctor or local health department for recommendations based on your health history. Staff members of Unbound are not qualified to offer advice on immunizations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/travel has country-specific recommendations. You can also contact them by phone at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).
We recommend speaking with a medical professional as soon as possible, as some immunizations are time-sensitive, and sometimes difficult to obtain. For example, of the countries we visit with awareness trips, a yellow fever vaccine is currently required for entry into Bolivia, Madagascar and Uganda. Our own staff members have recently experienced long waiting lists in getting the yellow fever vaccine, and some vaccines may require multiple stages.
Although a particular immunization may not be required for entry into your destination country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides country-specific recommendations for travelers. Sometimes the CDC’s recommendation references a specific area of a country or will vary depending on the style of travel. A trip coordinator would be happy to answer questions about the areas of the country a trip might visit, the lodging and other such facts that you and a medical professional may need to factor into your decisions.
3. What do you do on an awareness trip?
Most of our travelers join a trip in order to meet their sponsored friend, which is the highlight of the week’s activities. Our trips also show sponsors how their contributions are used to support and empower families.
And what do you do? Our local staff will meet you at the airport and will be your hosts for the week. Sponsored families will welcome you into their communities and into their homes. During the week, activities and celebrations will demonstrate how Unbound works with families living in poverty. Read our trip-specific, sample agendas, which can be found via our trips schedule page, for more details!
After reading these questions, you may ask yourself, “Why should I travel with Unbound?”
Awareness trip travelers describe the experience as rewarding, eye-opening, energizing, impactful and humbling. They’ve said the time truly grew their awareness and changed their perception of poverty. Others describe the trip as a retreat, a homecoming. Awareness trips are spent listening, learning and receiving. The task or mission to be accomplished is to reach across borders, listen to and learn from one another, have fun and celebrate life’s possibilities. The outpouring of love and gratitude shines in each welcome, smile and hug.